Brunel 200 Education Programme – Evaluation Report
Sue Sanctuary, Education Co-ordinator
The Brunel 200 year enabled thousands of people in Bristol and across the South West to learn about the life and work of Isambard
Kingdom Brunel through diverse formal and informal learning opportunities. This learning journey was a remarkable one, Brunel as
a personality and historical figure captivated children of all ages, stimulating debate and investigation across the curriculum.
Brunel’s legacy as a great Victorian polymath provided numerous dimensions to involve a wide spectrum of schools, colleges and
learning groups. This fed into the sense of an exciting and inclusive community celebration that crossed many boundaries.
In Bristol, with our rich physical Brunel heritage, we were able to encourage visits to Brunel’s ss Great Britain and Clifton
Suspension Bridge the Old Station at the Empire Commonwealth Museum and exhibition at the City Museum and Art Gallery as
well as trails around the harbour. The success of these visits was many-fold, introducing new schools to the potential for learning
through a close up experience of Brunel’s work. It resulted in further learning in schools and set the scene for our ambitious
residencies programme encouraging creative exploration through Brunel, his life, work and legacy.
The Brunel 200 educational programme was developed with much valued advice from Creative Partnerships, link teachers and a
wide range of creative practitioners, museum staff and Brunel experts. The following report reviews developments that took place
between October 2005 and September 2006.
The key educational aim was:
To work creatively with learners of all ages and abilities enabling access to a wide range of learning opportunities within
the Brunel 200 year
To bring Brunel alive for learners today through an experience of his legacy
To raise awareness of and increase access to our local heritage
To inspire the young Brunels of the future
To nurture original thinking and innovative work
To encourage collaborative working between groups of learners
To foster industry involvement
The aim was to use the many different dimensions of Brunel to make links to the curriculum eg:
Creativity Enterprise History
Science Engineering Design and Technology
English Literacy Numeracy
Geography Drama Art
To work closely with partners developing work that would have a significant
To broker the idea of learning through Brunel to as many different groups as
To inspire widely so that those living outside the city feel part of the Brunel
To build evaluation in at the outset of activity
To develop activity that would produce a sustainable outcome
It is not possible to include a review of every learning activity that took place during the Brunel educational programme but here are
some important examples:
The Great Reading Adventure – Jan to March 2006
This project had an identity in its own right, but unlocked learning about Brunel and the Victorians through the choice of book, Jules
Verne’s ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’. Its themes, scientific and engineering progress and pioneering adventure were
appropriate to learning about Brunel the visionary and innovator who had also inspired Verne during his career.
The book was distributed free to outlets across the region including libraries to encourage participation by all ages and especially
families. 3000 full text version and 7000 abridged versions of Around the World in Eighty Days were distributed free of charge to
schools in Bristol.
Teachers responded positively to ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ and particularly to the specially produced children’s version.
They welcomed the cross-curricular links bringing in geography, science and maths and design and technology as well as the
opportunity for a literacy focus. These links were emphasised in the teaching support pack sent to schools that had requested
delivery of the book.
A programme of 40 half day Great Reading Adventure workshops involving poets, drama and art practitioners was delivered as
outreach activity in schools and other venues between January and March 2006. A total of 1250 children participated in these
Insert link to Great Reading Adventure evaluation report here
Learning approaches to Brunel – an exploration with teachers
Brunel 200 Workshop for Primary Schools – on board ss Great Britain, December 2005
This workshop aimed to support those teachers wanting to develop creative learning approaches to Brunel, helping to identify
cross-curricular opportunities that would be sustainable beyond the Brunel 200 year.
Discussion centred on how Brunel might be used as a means of strengthening learning processes, meeting the needs of a wide
range of pupils. The potential for collaboration with artists, scientists and engineers and other practitioners was also highlighted.
This was an opportunity for teachers to network with other schools, to share ideas, support one another and become familiar with
the new Brunel exhibitions and range of workshops offered at the Brunel sites.
Nineteen teachers from sixteen primary schools attended.
Experts providing input were: Lucy Bradley, Museum of Empire and Commonwealth; Adam Nieman, Science Communicator; Brian
Thompson, Writer; Alida Norman, Maths Consultant; James McQuaid, Researcher Teacher’s TV
Visits and transport subsidy
Encouraging visits to the Brunel heritage sites in Bristol was a fundamental aim of the Brunel year. For children the experience of
visiting one of the Brunel sites such as the ss Great Britain or Clifton Suspension Bridge was incredibly powerful and generated
much more learning back in the classroom.
To overcome difficulties with funding often cited by schools as preventing them from visiting the sites, a Brunel 200 travel bursary
was created and offered to all schools within the Bristol Local Education Authority area.
Educational transport schemes in Bristol on this scale are relatively new and take up was difficult to anticipate.
Initial response was low and renewed marketing was necessary to encourage more schools to access the fund. At a later stage a
number of schools from neighbouring LEAs was also accepted onto the scheme. Ferry trips were encouraged to enable children to
experience Brunel’s work in the harbour and arrive at ss Great Britain from the water.
Make link to Brunel 200 events\Subsidised transport scheme page
The aim was to develop a residencies programme that was diverse and challenging, reflecting the many different dimensions to
Brunel and involving creative partners from a range of disciplines.
A bank of core activity was established to enable as many schools as possible to benefit from a Brunel related experience. This
Brunel science show – Brilliant Mr Brunel! Richard Ellam, LM Interactive May – July 2006
Richard Ellam, an experienced science communicator developed and facilitated a touring science show for Key Stage 2 and
Key Stage 3 audiences. See Appendix 4
3000 children benefited from experiencing Brilliant Mr Brunel!
Quotes from teachers/pupils:
“The kids loved the gory details and working models. They are not natural ‘listeners’ but he kept them focused and
entertained for almost an hour. Great!” Sarah Cox teacher, Hillfields Primary
“I learned a lot about Brunel and it was interesting about the ships and how they were built” Leigh Ann, Year 5
“I remember that the ss Great Eastern was only 50ft smaller than the Titanic” Jacob, Year 6
“Inspired pupils to think about engineering as a problem solving experience. They saw science in a real context .. and
learned that it does not always work!”
Peter Adamson, Head of Science, Mangotsfield Secondary School
Appearances by Brunel impersonator – Martin Williamson throughout the year
Insert link to Mr Brunel Appearances page here
In partnership with ss Great Britain, a character actor was identified who would impersonate Brunel throughout the year.
Brunel 200 funded visits by Isambard took place in 14 Primary schools in the city and at science and engineering events in
the region. Feedback from schools indicated how stimulating this experience was, generating rich discussion and bringing
history alive for pupils and teachers alike!
Jaimie Hodge, teacher at Ilminster Avenue Primary, Knowle West:
“It was an awe and wonder experience for most children. They really believed Brunel was in the room. It secured their
knowledge and expanded their experience”
Linda Trude, teacher at Blaise Primary, Henbury:
“They loved the way he involved children in relating incidents in his life. They were able to tell adults what he told them and
were extremely stimulated by this visit.”
Brunel puppet show for younger audiences - The Stovepipe Spectacular Vernacular or ‘The truth beneath the hat’
CW Productions, May to July 2006
2000 children across the city benefited from experiencing a Brunel Puppet Show
The puppet show was a vehicle for reaching a younger audience – those of pre-school age as well as at the lower end of
Primary school. It was a colourful and light-hearted show that emphasised Brunel as a man of ideas with a magic stovepipe
hat and an array of fellow characters including John Scott Russell, Brunel’s dog and a pub landlady! A simple puppet making
demonstration followed the show when requested.
Nursery schools responded extremely well and saw this as an opportunity to invite along parents as part of a family learning
Vicky Morris, Daisy Chain Nursery:
“Educational, informative, interactive, professional, captivating, humorous and totally enjoyable. The perfect recipe for
Julie Claridge, Jack and Jill Nursery:
“An enjoyable, fun way of bringing history and the local environment into Pre-School’
Faye Bailey, Wansdyke Primary:
“Years 1 and 2 are now performing their own Brunel assemblies and are using some of the ideas from the puppet show.
They have also written recounts and non-chronological reports”.
Specialised Residency Opportunities
The core Brunel 200 residencies programme was developed by the Brunel 200 Education Co-ordinator in conjunction with partner
practitioners, schools and organisations in order to create a diverse and innovative set of opportunities:
Brunel 200 EDUCATIONAL RESIDENCIES Approx numbers given when data not available
School/venue Activity Participants
30+ Schools/venues across the city Brunel touring science shows 3000
20+ Schools/venues across the city Visits by Isambard 2000
40+ Schools/venues across the city Brunel puppet show + demos 2000
Bristol Cathedral School Young Enterprise project 30
Horfield and cluster schools Children's Opera
Westbury Park School Empire Museum sound project 60
City Academy and feeder Primaries Multi A 234
Stoke Bishop Primary ss Great Britain and Brunel Radio activities 33
Schools across the region Setpoint/RR innovation awards 400
St Barnabas Ros Martin journeys project 40
City of Bristol College Junior Chef competition Brunel themed 14
Sea Mills Primary ss Great Britain activities 60
Perry Court Juniors SETNET hands on science activities 30
Hartcliffe Secondary Dr Who visits the age of Brunel 20
Blaise Primary Paper, Scissors, Stone 100
Chester Park Juniors Barbara Ash, sculptor 200
Perry Court Juniors Toby Hulse drama based experience 30
ss Great Britain family learning activities with Luke Jerram 100
Elmfield School for the Deaf Travelling Light production and Brunel activities 40
Ashton Gate Fiona Hamilton/Loben Tatlow writing/sound 60
Ilminster Ave Primary Yr 5 Paper, Scissors, Stone 40
Ilminster Ave Primary Yr 5 Storytelling Eileen Haste, Paper, Scissors, Stone
Ilminster Ave Primary Yr6 Toby Hulse ss GB inspired writing 30
Blaise Primary Simon Gurr/Jim Freebury comic workshop 30
Hartcliffe Secondary Simon Gurr/Eugene Byrne comic workshop 10
Fair Furlong Primary Luke Jerram residency 60
St Bernards Year 1 Brunel ballad writing 30
City Academy and Cabot Primary First Born Inventiveness Project 40
Hannah More Primary B200 FM Radio workshops 21
Two Mile Hill Infants B200 FM Radio workshops 36
St Bernadettes Primary Victorian Automata 30
St Bernards Designing an invention 30
Enterprise Learning and Bristol’s Brunel heritage
Bristol Cathedral School – Young Enterprise Business – January/February 2006
Year 12 students at Bristol Cathedral School wanted to incorporate the city’s Brunel heritage into their guide for families visiting the
city. A modest contribution from Brunel 200 enabled them to gather material on the Brunel attractions in the city and background
information on Brunel’s life and work.
The students reflected Brunel’s entrepreneurial spirit and demonstrated their enterprise skills. Setting themselves up as a
business they went on to win Company of the Year for Bristol and South Gloucestershire at the Young Enterprise Awards.
Museum of Empire and Commonwealth Radio, Westbury Park Primary
60 pupils – March 2006
In partnership with the Education team at the Museum Year 5 pupils produced Brunel inspired creative writing, interviews, short
stories, character profiles and news reports. These were edited and transferred onto CD as a lasting resource for the school and to
be used at the Museum.
B200 fm Radio Creative Experiences
Feb – April 2006
Collaborative work with B200 fm radio provided a rich source of creative opportunities that succeeded in engaging a wide spectrum
Stoke Bishop Primary – 33 pupils
Hannah More Primary – 21 pupils
Two Mile Hill Infants – 36 pupils
Children participated in radio skills activities enabling them to become involved in all parts of the production process. They became
reporters, created their Brunel radio drama and presented their own material some of which was aired on B200 FM. Visits to the ss
Great Britain were the inspiration for their work which was shared with pupils back at school and with parents during assembly.
Groups also visited the radio station while in operation.
Brunel Radio also visited Tyning Hengrove Junior School to record a programme about their re-enactment of the banquet that was
held at the launch of the ss Great Britain in 1843.
Make link to Brunel 200 events\B200 fm page here
Hartcliffe Engineering and Community College and the Victorian Dragon’s Den
6 students March 2006
Students from Hartcliffe were involved in the recording of the Victorian Dragon’s Den which was broadcast on B200 FM in April.
They were involved with a cast of Victorian entrepreneurs proposing their ideas to a panel of experts including Adam Hart-Davis.
Children’s Opera Project ‘Coming Home’ throughout 2006
A project led by an Advanced Skills Teacher in Music in collaboration with a local composer and a poet linking four schools across
the city: Horfield CEVC Primary, Cheddar Grove Primary, Cabot Primary and St Mary Redcliffe Secondary School. The inspiration
for the project was the journeys made by passengers travelling on the ss Great Britain. Activities included young people’s singing
and composing workshops over a series of months culminating in a performance at St Georges, Bristol in October 2006. There will
be lasting benefits for the schools in terms of skills, ongoing activities and resources.
Multi A and Brunel Sinfonia at City Academy – summer 2006
Multi A built upon their successful Brunel arts project to develop a collaboration with Brunel Sinfonia, a young orchestra linking up
with composer Geoffrey Burgeon who had been commissioned to write a Brunel work. The Brunel 200 residencies programme
enabled the orchestra to deliver music workshops at the City Academy and local feeder primary schools helping pupils explore
creative interpretation of Brunel through musical composition. A final performance at the City Academy was an important
celebration for all and supported the transition work between local primaries and the school.
Children from Millpond Primary School (one of the feeder primary schools invited to the performance) were appreciative of their
“Often people don’t take notice of our school but you did. That’s why we appreciate what you did and we want to thank you so
much.” Year 5 pupil
“Thank you for letting us go to see the Orchestra playing at City Academy. We all think it was fantastic.”
“We are very happy because we all love it!”
Ros Martin at St Barnabas Primary – number of participants 40 – June 2006
This project was important as it linked with an inner city school that had not prioritised learning about Brunel until this year. St
Barnabas is a diverse school with children from a variety of ethnic minority backgrounds who were unlikely to know about Brunel
and his legacy in the city. Part of the project took place on board the ss Great Britain enabling the children to carry out research
and perform drama on deck. Cultural barriers meant that very few children had been to visit in the past and some families had
been concerned that the ship might have transported goods produced by slavery. The instigation of this project and the resulting
positive impact in the school was a significant achievement. Ros Martin was able to develop a rich programme that helped the
children connect with the lives of working people in Victorian times and to understand how their own city had changed during that
The children were happy to share what they had learned on their visit to the ship and what they were proudest of during the day:
“I’m proud of learning the sailors’ alphabet nearly off by heart.”
Annie was proud she’d done a poem about coal that rhymed
“I am proud of working with my table because I don’t usually get much work done.”
“I learnt what it felt like in the old days.”
Frances liked doing drama best because you could use what you have learnt through the day which made it more interesting.
Bristol Junior Chef Brunel themed competition
12 participants – July 2006
Year 11 school leavers were challenged to enter the Bristol Junior Chef competition by demonstrating their creativity in proposing a
Brunel inspired menu. The competition was endorsed by Michelin starred chef Martin Blunos, a pioneer in his own field. The
Brunel branding for the competition inspired the young people involved to work creatively and conveyed the message that
enterprise, resilience and determination are necessary to succeed in the industry.
Brunel\education\photos\junior chef\winner 2
Dr Who visits the Age of Brunel
Hartcliffe Engineering and Community College
20 participants June – September 2006
This project identified a way of engaging teenagers in learning about Brunel through creative writing and dramatic interpretation.
Students at the school media club took up the challenge of creating a Dr Who script based on events aboard Brunel’s ss Great
Britain. Their storyline incorporated Brunellian ideas about pushing the boundaries of science and engineering. Bob Baker, one of
the original Dr Who scriptwriters and creator of K9 helped the group explore what makes a successful script. The students then
worked with scriptwriter, Brian Thompson and Ray Cockram, mentor at the school, to research the story at ss Great Britain and
write their final piece. The project was successful in engaging students that were not motivated academically.
Make link to downloadable DVD here
Image: Brunel\Hartcliffe Community College\visit to ssGB
Enabling children to learn by doing through a hands-on exploration of Brunel was at the heart of a set of projects
engaging children who were less likely to learn through a traditional academic approach.
100 participants – June 2006
Paper, Scissors, Stone a collective of artists specialising in the creation of 3-D carnival structures developed an innovative
programme for Year 3 children based on bridge building. Inspired by the Clifton Suspension Bridge the children let their
imaginations fly with ideas about bridges connecting people and places. The artists made a colourful and inspirational book with
the children’s artwork as part of the documentation process. Link to Paper, Scissors, Stone CD here
Linda Trude the link teacher at Blaise Primary commented:
“The creativity of the children was amazing and the making of their futuristic bridge was a spectacular highlight during our Brunel
activities. The staff and pupils really enjoyed working with Paper, Scissors, Stone and all of the Brunel 200 opportunities we were
able to access.”
Make link to Case Study Paper, Scissors, Stone at Blaise Primary page here
Ilminster Avenue Primary
40 participants – July 2006
The success of the Paper, Scissors, Stone input at Blaise Primary meant that the project was repeated at Ilminster Avenue
Primary. This was a very different environment within which to operate, where teachers were not able to take such a close role in
the development of the project. However a very proactive Learning Assistant supported the groups of participating children and
commented upon the immense value of learning in such a creative way. Many of the children who had achieved so much through
the project were those who experienced difficulty within the usual constraints of set subjects taught in the classroom.
Chester Park Junior School
200 participants – June/July 2006
The History Co-ordinator at Chester Park Junior School was enthusiastic about becoming involved in a Brunel 200 residency with
an art and design focus. The resulting project was led by Barbara Ash, a sculptor and creative practitioner who was based at the
school over a period of six weeks. Inspired by a nineteenth century painting by Samuel Colman, ‘The ceremony of laying the
foundation stone of the Suspension Bridge’ children across the school constructed their own flotilla of ships out of polysterene and
mod roc plaster. It was a significant achievement to deliver this project as the school had never before worked on a project of this
size with a creative practitioner.
Head teacher Tony Phillips:
“Working with a professional and being guided and taught skills was a huge benefit. Cross-curricular and creative themes were a
feature and co-operation skills were also developed. The school through its individuals created an artwork for all.”
Make link to Case Study Chester Park Juniors page here
Luke Jerram at ss Great Britain
100 participants – August 2006
Luke Jerram’s residency at ss Great Britain created opportunities for visitors to participate in Brunel family learning activities.
Luke’s creative concept - a simple origami boat as the base for families to decorate with their own Brunel inspired designs worked
extremely well. Each boat had a message that was a ‘dream for the future’ mirroring the vision of Brunel. These workshops were
oversubscribed. Local families and visitors from outside the city attended the celebratory sailing of the boats across the docks.
Luke Jerram at Fair Furlong
60 participants – September 2006
Teachers at Fair Furlong were delighted that Luke Jerram was able to work in residency with children at the school particularly
because of his interest in linking science and art. Year 5 and 6 pupils visited the ss Great Britain and were inspired to create an
artwork reflecting the engineering skills within Brunel’s achievements. This was hands-on science learning, particularly in relation
to forces and structures and involved measuring and design and technology skills.
Teacher, Christine Purnell commented: “The impact has been immense, the learning in the classroom has been much better and
deeper. Children picked up a lot about the Victorian era as well as Brunel. It also enabled a lot of cross-curricular work with history,
science and DT. Our Brunel topic isn’t over yet - so more to come!”
Brunel\Education\photos\fair furlong mobile\pointing
Brunel\Education\photos\fair furlong mobile\making
Brunel\Education\photos\fair furlong mobile\pupils
Pickled Image and Toby Hulse collaborations
Creative Practitioners Dik Downey and Vicky Andrews known as ‘Pickled Image’ were able to make Brunel captivating for children
in a unique way. Their work triggers creative involvement and individual expression from children through a connection with
puppetry. They also have expertise in the design and engineering of theatrical props and machinery.
Partnering Pickled Image with Toby Hulse worked extremely well as his use of drama and creative skills inspired children in two
Bristol schools to produce amazing results.
St Bernadette’s Project
30 participants – May 2006
Pickled Image encouraged pupils to use planning, design and making skills to produce working Victorian ‘automata’ incorporating
mechanisms such as levers, cogs and pulleys. These would become interactive exhibits about Brunel. Children worked with Toby
Hulse on storylines researching dramatic events in Brunel’s life and career. The end result was an imaginative range of ‘peep
show’ exhibits that created a learning experience through entertaining an audience.
The Victorian automata took pride of place at their Victorian Fair for the whole school and invited parents.
Pickled Image and Toby Hulse at St Bernards – July 2006
The experience at St Bernards was one of experimentation and risk taking stimulating children to design their own ingenious hybrid
inventions. It involved combining two ideas to make something new and extraordinary, reflecting the way Brunel harnessed
technology for new purposes. The children created working plans that detailed the design process and were shared with parents at
an after school celebration. Dads responded well to this as it replicated what takes place in real life engineering and is part of many
of their own jobs.
Toby Hulse at Perry Court Juniors – May 2006
This week-long residency built upon an existing relationship between Toby Hulse and the History Co-ordinator at Perry Court. It
meant the project could act as a pilot for assessing history learning through the pupils’ creation of a drama exploring Brunel and the
The project grew from a visit to the Brunel and the Art of Invention exhibition at Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery. This project had
a big impact on all involved stretching the children and resulting in powerful drama that was shared with the rest of the school.
“The productions were exciting, engaging, at times humorous and at times very emotional. As a teacher the most moving thing was
seeing the creative power of very 'ordinary' children brought truly alive with magical results” Helen Barbour, teacher
The children enjoyed giving their feedback on the week:
“I enjoyed it because he taught us how to do a really good fight.”
Link to Case Study – Perry Court Juniors here
Travelling Light and Elmfield School for the Deaf
40 participants aged 4-14 June – September 2006
This residency was an opportunity for hearing impaired young people to use a range of creative skills interpreting the impact of
Brunel on Victorian society. It was developed by Sandra Barefoot of Travelling Light Theatre Company in collaboration with the
The focus was 'unsung heroes' of the age and 'building bridges' in many contexts. Pupils created their own poetry, artwork, short
stories, film and physical theatre. The project was also a bridge between pupils at the Primary school site and those who had left to
attend the new secondary facility. In particular it proved a wonderful opportunity for deaf theatre to be performed first at the school
for parents and then as part of the Brunel finale at the Bristol Old Vic. The Old Vic performance was groundbreaking as it was the
first time that deaf theatre had been performed on stage in the city.
A film made during the project has proved to be a very successful means of documenting and evaluating the experience for all
those who took part.
Make link to Travelling Light DVD
Fiona Hamilton and Loben Tatlow at Ashton Gate Primary School
60 participants – June 2006
Creative Practitioner Fiona Hamilton and Sound Artist Loben Tatlow worked with Year 3 pupils at Ashton Gate Primary. They
encouraged the children to take on the roles of those who worked or travelled on the ss Great Britain practising drama and sound
skills. This revealed the real experiences of those who had travelled on the ship and the conditions they faced. The final piece
entitled ‘The Golden Sea’ was produced on DVD.
“The children thoroughly enjoyed learning about the ss Great Britain and what better way than to do it than through drama and story
telling. The range of activities was fantastic and through the week they learnt new vocabulary and gained an understanding of what
life would have been like on the ship. “ Suzie Ilett Year 5 Teacher See DVD
Make link to ‘The Golden Sea’ sound CD and ‘The Golden Sea’ pics CD here
First Born Creatives
‘I Can Dream’ Year 3 pupils at Cabot Primary, Year 8 students at City Academy
April – July 2006 - 40 participants
This project helped to address the question:
How can we engage young people from the inner city and in particular those from ethnic minority backgrounds in learning about
First Born Creatives linked with Cabot Primary and students at City Academy to engage them in a series of challenges and
activities that reflected Brunel’s creativity and entrepreneurship. To do this they met and work with present day inspirational
innovators who have made their mark in business and design. Jake Siddique, inventor of a case for the iPod and Tim Paddock
inventor of the ‘mountain board’ acted as mentors to the groups.
Over the course of the project the pupils investigated technological innovation and the skills and qualities needed by successful
entrepreneurs. Throughout the project they learned about the process of developing a product from research and planning through
to final marketing.
“The pupils still talk about it now and I feel that they have developed a new approach and understanding of the whole design
process. They were also all extremely proud to have their work recognised.” Kathryn Fuller, teacher Cabot Primary
Their pupils’ work is showcased on www.icandream.co.uk a website celebrating the project which also serves as a lasting resource
for other schools to draw upon.
Link to Case Study – Firstborn Creatives page here
Science and Engineering Activities
Bridge building became a very popular theme for Primary Schools during the year. Brunel’s Clifton Suspension bridge, Bristol’s
best known landmark inspired much activity and was the focus for science and engineering activities in school.
SETNET (Science, Engineering and Technology Network based at University of Bath) delivered a very successful bridge building
event for Year 5 pupils at Perry Court Junior School (May 2006). Inspired by examples of Brunel’s bridges the children made their
own bridge structures out of rolled up paper and tested their strength using model cars. A visiting engineer from Bucknall Austin
brought in his own model of the suspension bridge that he rebuilt to show the children the principles behind its design.
What would you design to bridge the gap? April 2006
Many schools across the city submitted entries to the University of Bristol Clifton Crossing competition.
The competition devised by Professor Colin Taylor at the University in association with the New Civil Engineer magazine
challenged entrants to design their own present day solution to crossing the Avon Gorge. The competition was open to practising
engineers and students as well as primary and secondary schools. Schools were enthusiastic about this opportunity as the brief
was a stimulating one, allowing children to use their imaginations and show an understanding of basic engineering principles. It
was an opportunity that all children could access at different levels.
Link to Brunel 200\Clifton Crossing Competition page here
200 Great Ideas – May 2006
The call for schools, businesses and the wider community to follow in the footsteps of Brunel and propose ideas that would improve
our way of life today generated many ingenious contributions:
SETPOINT/Rolls Royce innovation awards – March 2006
This event, held at University of Bath, provided the opportunity for 400 Key Stage 3 children to showcase their science learning to
judges from industry. The pupils were set an additional challenge to generate their Ideas for Bristol demonstrating their knowledge
of science and engineering. The winning entries were:
‘The Angel of Bristol’ a working monument to Brunel incorporating sustainable technology to demonstrate a greener lifestyle
of the future.
A computer traffic control system that directs cars along the least congested city route.
A pod system for assembling temporary shelters for homeless people in the city.
Rolls-Royce Brunel Competitions
Rolls Royce initiated their own Brunel 200 Educational competitions for schools involving input from young engineers at the
company. The first invited Primary School children in Years 1 to 4 to design a poster showing a ground breaking invention that
Brunel might have proposed if he had been alive today. Pupils in Year 5 and 6 and Secondary School students in Years 7, 8 and 9
were challenged to ‘Design and build a ship and its propulsion system using recycled or sustainable material to cover the greatest
distance, in the shortest time with as much cargo as possible.’ The competition pack contained valuable information to support
these learning opportunities. The competition was publicised at the beginning of the school year and ran between April and July
Add link to Brunel 200 events\Rolls-Royce Interschools Competition page here
Adam Hart-Davis at the Colston Hall – April 2006
A mixed audience of Primary and Secondary school pupils attended this free event ‘Brunel and his Fellow Engineers’ presented
by Adam Hart-Davis. In his own distinctive way Adam Hart-Davis brought Brunel’s many achievements to life with reference to the
work of other important Victorian engineers such as George and Robert Stephenson. Although some of the content may have
been a little too difficult for some of the younger pupils, teachers remarked that children went back to school enthusiastic to learn
more about Brunel. They particularly benefited from the opportunity to go up to the stage and ask Adam questions themselves.
Add link to Brunel 200 events\ Adam Hart-Davis lectures here
Brunel’s Birthday Card Competition – March 2006
Primary school pupils were invited to create a birthday card for Brunel that included a message about his work and showed that
they could be as ingenious as the man himself! The winners of the competition were guests of honour at the Brunel launch on April
9th switching on the new suspension bridge lights. This generated great excitement in their respective schools and encouraged
further Brunel learning activities.
Add link to Brunel 200 events\Design Mr Brunel a birthday card here
A decision was made to create a learning site within the overall Brunel 200 website that would serve as an information portal to
Brunel learning activities. Content would be organised so that materials linked to different areas of the curriculum would be easily
accessible and could be kept updated. Teachers would be able to download documents and images for use with interactive
whiteboards with links to relevant websites. The site would also enable teachers to contact Brunel 200 about specific issues, to
suggest resources that they had identified and contribute to a discussion forum. It would also enable a wider reach so that schools
outside of Bristol could access material.
The website proved the ideal place for resources such as the Brunel materials produced by local teachers to be shared with other
schools. This resource incorporating the Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory model was an innovative set of materials motivating
individual learners through a Brunel experience.
A key consideration was that the website would be portable and could be moved to another server in the future eg the South West
Grid for Learning or ss Great Britain website.
Progress on the website was slower than anticipated due to the volume of live educational projects underway with schools and
content is still being accumulated. However there is a sound framework in place for future development.
Add link to www.brunel200.com/education_learning.htm here
Free printed resources available during the Brunel 200 year were well received in schools. These included:
Amanda Mitchison’s book ‘The Iron Man’ part of the ‘Who Was?’ series
Around the World in Eighty Days books and supporting materials
Brunel graphic novel
Brunel trail guides
200 Great Ideas booklets
Brunel 200 newsletters
Brunel Graphic Novel
This unique resource made learning about Brunel and his achievements accessible for many different audiences. The language
and length was most appropriate for secondary school age pupils but was used in some Primary schools with older children.
Illustrator Simon Gurr and comic store owner Jim Freebury delivered a very successful workshop at Blaise Primary School (June
2006) encouraging children to write and illustrate their own comic strip story inspired by the Brunel graphic novel.
Brunel 200 was able provide bulk copies for distribution to all secondary school students in Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset,
South Gloucestershire and North Somerset. Copies went home to parents and carers and the comic was distributed free of charge
at the Brunel sites in Bristol.
Illustrator, Simon Gurr and writer Eugene Byrne also delivered a creative comic workshop for students at Hartcliffe secondary
school (July 2006).
Make link to Publications\Graphic Biography page here
ss Great Britain – Brunel resources
Brunel 200 supported the ss Great Britain Education Officer in the development of a pack of learning resources produced by local
teachers and consultants.
The resulting high quality resources are clearly linked to the national curriculum as well as extension activities with learning values
at the core (ELLI).
For Key Stage 1, learning about Brunel as a significant individual includes a choice of ‘games’ based lessons.
The pack will be available on CD as well as in hard copy format. Content was produced for September 2006 to allow further testing
in schools in Terms 1 and 2 and distribution by Jan 2007.
Make link to ssGB page here
Barriers to involvement
It was not possible to engage secondary schools as widely as we would have wished within our timescale. This was frustrating but
not completely unexpected considering the constraints of the secondary curriculum and the pressures that teachers in the city are
Communications with schools was also an issue but no means unique to this project. Although a contact database was developed
this could have been developed further had there been a greater response to initial marketing.
Collaboration with venues
The Education Group comprising representatives from the Brunel sites and teacher representatives was a valuable sounding board
for ideas. It did not however generate significant joined up activity between the different sites. This had been an ambitious aim
that was difficult to implement amongst partners with little track history of joining forces. Each Brunel venue, the ss Great Britain,
At-Bristol, Clifton Suspension Bridge, City Museum and Art Gallery and the Museum of Empire offered their own programme of
learning opportunities related to their Brunel 200 exhibitions. These were publicised by Brunel 200 in mailshots to schools, during
contact with groups of teachers and on the website.
See separate Brunel 200 evaluation from the Brunel sites.
The period of the Brunel 200 celebrations provided a short timescale within which to engage schools, colleges and partner
organisations and to develop work from scratch. Despite this the resulting programme reflected a breadth of activity that reached
out widely and produced work of real quality. Feedback from learners and teachers indicates that the programme had significant
impact and helped to leave a learning legacy for the future. Much of what took place has sown the seeds for sustainable activity
due to the outstanding efforts of teachers, artists and practitioners who became inspired by Brunel.
Forward planning with schools at beginning of previous academic year
A bidding process inviting schools to develop a Brunel project with a creative partner early in the planning cycle, encouraging
ownership and integration into the rest of school planning
Outsourcing creation of materials
Administrative support for Education Co-ordinator
Enlisting help with dedicated tasks eg website development
Consider working with schools in the Greater Bristol area if Bristol LEA schools are unable to become proactive partners